“We called him Father, never a childish diminutive like Dad or Daddy. One of the newbies once called him, ‘Pop,’ by accident. Maybe it was a dim memory from his ‘before,’ but Father’s lesson taught him that informal nomenclature was a sign of disrespect, and would be appropriately punished.
“It followed that we were each given new, more proper Christian names too – William, Margaret, Edward, and Victoria. Like our guardian’s name, these too were used in whole. Nicknames were forbidden.
“Later, after I escaped our conclave, I realized that he profaned the very meaning of ‘father,’ and “family’.”
“Your Honor!” The prosecutor rose from his table. “This goes to the witness’s state of mind.”
“Overruled,” the judge said.
Grateful for the glass of water the bailiff sat on the witness stand for me, I took long, thirsty gulps, trying to quench the burning in my chest.
I knew he would be in the courtroom, but thought after so long, he wouldn’t still frighten me. I was wrong. I could feel the weight of his stare, and it felt like he was crushing the life from me.
Federal kidnapping charges were bogus, but he demanded a trial. So, here I was in family court, giving testimony refuting “custodial interference.” It wasn’t interference, it was saving the lives of my younger siblings. They were finally free of him, and safe.
It galled him that they all willing came with me. The only thing that kept me in the well was that I already knew his stone was made. Regardless of the judge’s ruling, justice would prevail.